Flying with photography gear - how do you pack?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by ericonoahu, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. ericonoahu

    ericonoahu TPF Noob!

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    I will be flying with my DSLR, at least two lenses, and a couple light stands, strobes, and umbrellas along with related lighting equipment. I'll also be bringing a laptop but I'm used to traveling with that.

    My question for those who are experienced flying with this much equipment - what do you check, what do you carry on, and how do you pack?

    I am definitely not the type to try to get everything in a carry-on. I also like to keep as much as possible in the checked suitcase.

    Obviously the lighting stuff and tripod can go checked. How carefully would I have to cushion the lenses for them to survive checked? Or is that just not worth trying?

    Thanks for any discussion, tips, and experiences with this....

    Edit: I'd really like to hear from people who actually have flown with camera equipment tell me what they actually do.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  2. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Use Pelican cases. 1510 for the more expensive items brought on the plane as a carry on. The rest checked in.

    More importantly, make sure everything is insured because there is absolutely no way to make sure everything makes it to the destination. Anything checked in is subject to TSA inspection thus not secured.
     
  3. ericonoahu

    ericonoahu TPF Noob!

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    Anyone have a recommendation on who to insure with? There is special travel insurance for specific uses like this right?

    Again - my list of items:

    1 body
    2 lenses
    strobe lighting (2 strobes, stands, umbrellas, and misc stuff)
    tripod
    laptop

    I can't see stands and umbrellas needing a pelican case and the flashes themselves don't seem that fragile.

    If you're carrying lenses on the plane do they really need to be in a pelican case vs my everyday camera bag?
     
  4. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you're bringing it carry-on, your normal camera bag should be fine. If you're checking it, Pelican case is the way to go...
     
  5. ericonoahu

    ericonoahu TPF Noob!

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    What did you do the last time you flew with camera equipment?
     
  6. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    check your h ome owners for insurance; ie. a special rider.

    also, just an fyi, if you pack something and it disappears the airline will do a lot of paper work, but the small print indicates they don't cover photography equipment.

    You can buy special locks these days that have a combination for you and a key for TSA.
     
  7. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Small bag, carry-on. Never left my sight.
     
  8. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    That would be something to look into... If they can't open it, they will just cut the lock off. Then, you have a bag with no lock...
     
  9. mJs

    mJs TPF Noob!

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    Last time I flew with my gear I did it all carry-on except for the light stands etc... I have a backpack large enough for my body, plus my 4 lenses, flashes... I just really had to watch the weight of the carry-on and it was close. I was not traveling with my laptop, but this bag also has a laptop compartment, and I could have taken that as well if I had chosen. Not sure if you have a weight restriction with your ticket... but there are bags out there that will carry it all and still meet the size requirements for airlines.
     
  10. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    I carried on my camera gear and shipped my lighting equipment UPS a couple of days prior to my flight.

    Of you use a Pelican 1510, it won't fit the overhead bins in regional jets.

    I know United's E70's have regular size overhead bins on 1 side of the aircraft.

    Tuesday, I flew back from Reno, Nevada (Burning Man).

    I carried on a Case Logic camera backpack that had in it:
    • a gripped Nikon D300
    • 4 lenses (3 f/2.8 zooms including a 80-200 f/2.8, 1 - 50mm f/1.8 prime)
    • 2 speedlights w/radio triggers
    • a 15" laptop, spare battery, charger, 2 - 8 GB Cruzer Flash drives
    • 12 spare NiMH AA batteries
    • 2 En-EL3e batteries
    • lens/camera cleaning supplies
    • blower brush
    • a couple of CPL filters (72 mm and 77mm), 16 GB of CF memory
    • and in a padded bag a Giottos full size tripod with Manfotto 3-way pan-tilt head strapped to the outside of the backpack.
    No problems with TSA. They never touched the bag, just x-rayed it and stared at the x-ray image for a bit.
     
  11. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    I never check camera or glass, but then again I always try and fly with nothing checked. I hate paying the airline for luggage when I'm already being robbed blind for my ticket. My Tamrac laptop/camera bag has always qualified as 'other personal item such as laptop, etc.' and I also carry a carry-on suitcase. You would think that if you're paying for the privilege of checking baggage, they would take more responsibility to see that it gets there ok. I don't know anyone who has never had checked luggage lost or significantly delayed. Even if it gets there ok, very few (if any) airports strictly monitor who picks up what luggage.
     
  12. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I shoot with rangefinders and an E-PL1. As such my 8 lenses and 3 camera bodies fit in a Pelican 1510 with divider set. 1510 is TSA approved and fits in the overhead compartments of most commercial airlines. Clothes and tripod was checked in and my netbook was in my shoulder bag along with personal items. Insurance is through my homeowner's policy. The insurance is just as important as the case used for transport. It is impossible to secure expensive items 100%.

    I also have a bicycle cable and lock which allows me to lock the 1510 to immovable things. Any equipment I leave in the hotel room is locked to the sink or something. Just be sure to unlock the 1510 prior to security check.


    [EDIT]

    For those that travel with a lot of stuff, I've heard of them sending them via insured mail ahead of time. Again, use a pelican to protect the stuff. Unfortunately, this requires someone you trust to receive said items. We did that on our last family trip (its hard carrying luggage with young children) and the cost to send the stuff via regular mail was just slightly more than checking in the bags.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010

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